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USPTO invalidates all claims of 'Steve Jobs' multi-touch patent

Source: FOSS Patents

A decision published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Monday saw an Apple patent, co-invented by late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, covering multi-touch functionality have all 20 of its claims invalidated after the property was reexamined.

The USPTO's review of Apple U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 for a "Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics" was completed earlier this week, with the preliminary invalidation filing first discovered by FOSS Patents. The first Office action is not final, however, and can later be overturned following an appeal.

Dubbed the "Steve Jobs" patent by a number of people, including Apple's lawyers, the '949 patent is a broad, sweeping property covering the general functionality of multi-touch screens like those used in the iPhone and iPad. Leveraged against Samsung in the landmark Apple v. Samsung jury trial, as well as an ITC dispute with Motorola, the IP is thought to be one the most famous of Jobs' software patents.

Patent Illustration
Illustration from the '949 patent. | Source: USPTO

Filed for in April 2008 and granted in January 2009, the '949 patent lists Jobs first among 25 co-inventors including former iOS chief Scott Forstall and engineer Bas Ording.

From the '949 patent's abstract:

A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command.

The '949 patent decision comes a little over one month after Apple's '381 "rubber-banding" or "bounce-back" patent was also invalidated in a similar preliminary action. Both properties faced multiple reexamination requests challenging their validity, the most recent being an ex parte, or anonymous, challenge in in May.